NORTH SMITHFIELD – The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management has announced that Wright’s Dairy Farm has been named Rhode Island’s 2019 Outstanding Dairy Farm by the Rhode Island Green Pastures Committee, of which DEM is a member.
“Wright’s Dairy Farm is one of our state’s finest dairy farms and is most deserving of this special recognition,” said DEM Director Janet Coit. “Customers who visited the dairy farm as children now bring their own children to buy milk, cream and bakery items and watch the cows being milked. The success enjoyed by the Wright family and other Rhode Island dairy farmers is helping to protect and preserve hundreds of acres of farmland that will support continued agricultural endeavors well into the future.”
“This award program shines an important light on the value of dairy farming to our state,” said Ken Ayars, chief of agriculture at DEM. “It’s no secret that dairy farming has experienced a decline in recent years in Rhode Island – as elsewhere nationally. Kudos to Wright’s Dairy Farm and the Green Pastures Committee for their commitment to ensuring the viability of this important local industry.”
The state’s food scene is often cited as an area of economic strength ripe for innovation and growth. Already, the local food industry supports 60,000 jobs, and the state’s green industries account for more than 15,000 jobs and contribute $2.5 billion to the economy annually.
DEM continues to work across many fronts to benefit and strengthen Rhode Island’s green economy and to assist local farmers and fishers in growing their businesses. There are more than 1,000 farms sprinkled across the state and Rhode Island is home to a thriving young farmer network. DEM continues to make investments in critical infrastructure as well as provide farm incubation space to new farmers through its Urban Edge Farm and Snake Den Farm properties. Wright’s Dairy Farm was selected for this year’s award because of the Wright family’s long-term commitment to dairy farming and community ties.
Wright’s Dairy is a fifth-generation family dairy farm celebrating over 100 years of producing and selling quality dairy and bakery products direct to the consumer. In the 1970s Wright’s transformed a home delivery milk route into a retail store located on the farm. The bakery, which started in Claire Wright’s kitchen, was added shortly thereafter and the business grew. Today there are eight immediate family members involved in the day-to-day operations, and they make a conscious choice each day to get along and work together for the good of the business. Eighty-two full and part-time employees work with the family members to accomplish the many varied tasks necessary to run the operation.
One hundred of the dairy farm’s 150 cows are milked twice daily in a double milking parlor that was built on the farm in 2009. All cows on the farm, starting with the calves to the milkers, have diets balanced by a nutritionist. They utilize high-quality forages to form the base of the rations and then complement these feeds with a balanced mixture of grains, vitamins, and minerals.
Wright’s Dairy has received a Vermont DHIA award for consistently producing high-quality milk. The cows are always at the top of the farm’s priority list at the beginning of every day. Milk is processed and sold on site. Milk travels via stainless steel pipeline from the milking barn to the dairy plant where it is pasteurized, homogenized, and bottled for sale in the farm’s retail store. Dairy products offered for sale include whole and low-fat milks, creams, flavored milks, cheese, ice cream and ice cream sandwiches.
After over 100 years it was time to retire the farm’s original dairy barn that was built by first-generation dairy farmer, George Wright. A new building that looks like a barn from the exterior was constructed in the footprint of the original barn; this structure is the home of Wright’s production bakery and continues to steadily grow. Wright’s Dairy Farm uses the farm’s milk for puddings and custards and its heavy cream to make many real whipped cream cakes, pies and pastries. The bakery also produces a full line of muffins, cookies, brownies, chocolates and custom-decorated special occasion cakes.
The dairy farm has been slowly growing a wholesale milk delivery route to service coffee shops, bakeries, and small grocery stores. This year, Wright’s Dairy Farm opened an on-site ice cream shop out of a 1966 streamline trailer to promote its cow-to-cone ice cream.
The Outstanding Dairy Farm of the Year award is sponsored by the New England Green Pastures Committee, made up of government and industry members. Membership in the committee is coordinated by the Rhode Island Agricultural Council and the DEM Division of Agriculture. Winning dairy farmers from each New England state will be honored on Friday, Sept. 13 at the Big E Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, Mass.
For information on DEM programs and initiatives, visit www.dem.ri.gov.